San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Casinos: Viva Central America

FEELING lucky? Central America offers plenty ofways to spend your time and money.The largest casino on the isthmus and the most recentattraction to hit Nicaragua’s capital city, Managua, isPharaoh’s, next to Camino Real Hotel. The casino boastsmore than 200 slot machines, aVIP room and a stage for musicand shows by international artists.The swanky new casino willalso feature live boxing shows,according to marketing managerRicardo Alvarado.“In a style inspired by LasVegas, we want to support one ofNicaragua’s main sports: boxing,”Alvarado said in a phoneinterview.Pharaoh’s has more than 100parking spaces and eight gametables, including blackjack andpoker, as well as special tables forTexas Hold-‘em competitions.CASINO Fiesta and Piratessports bar, in front of Juan SantamaríaInternational Airport, westof San José, is Costa Rica’snewest casino, open sinceFebruary.The 25,000-square-foot entertainmentcenter contains the country’slargest television screens –four giant projectors and sevenplasma screens – playing NorthAmerican sports nonstop.“Fiesta breaks the stigma ofcasinos in Costa Rica,” chief financial officer Mike Fox toldThe Tico Times. “There is no prostitution or drugs in thiscasino.”With a high-limit VIP room, a velvet room, 12 gametables, 150 slot machines and a Denny’s restaurant, Fox iscorrect in saying Fiesta “is like being in Vegas.”In addition, Fiesta’s Pirates Bar and Grill, which seats120 people, features live shows and music every day.JAZZ Casinos is a chain of four beach casinos inPlaya Conchal, Tamarindo and Flamingo, on the northernPacific coast, and in Jacó’s Hotel Amapola, on the centralPacific coast.With more than 120 slot machines total in all four casinos,and four to six tables in each, Jazz Casinos take pridein its luxurious-yet-fun, laid-back beach ambiance.Jacó’s Jazz Casino reopened last December and nowfeatures 11 bar slots – North American-style slot machinesthat allow you to have a drink sitting at the bar while playing– as well as Texas Hold-‘em tables, according to consultantC.J. Williams.The Conchal Jazz Casino, at Hotel Paradisus PlayaConchal, formerly Meliá Conchal, was the first casino inCosta Rica built for a five-starhotel.“The Paradisus casino is veryupscale,” Williams said. “It wasremodeled two years ago and isall mirrors and brass overlookingthe ocean.”The Tamarindo casino islocated in Hotel Diriá; theFlamingo casino at FlamingoBeach Hotel.CASINO Colonial, acrossfrom Hotel Del Rey in downtownSan José, is awaiting the constructionof a swanky new partnerhotel in two months.“We offer one of the best casinoenvironments in all of SanJosé,” casino manager VanesaCuña said.With ample parking, excellentrestaurant service and a friendlystaff, Cuña said the casino’s clienteleappears very pleased with therelaxed environment.CASINO Europa will celebrateits sixth anniversary thismonth by giving away morethan ¢63 million (approximately$132,000) and a car in prizes over the next three months,according to marketing manager Carlos Vargas.“Historically, Europa has the largest money prizes inthe country,” poker-room manager Luis Szlak said.Vargas said Europa is the only casino in Costa Rica tooffer cards that accumulate points, which can be exchangedfor prizes such as plane tickets and electronics.“Apart from being the only casino in the country to getfeatured on Las Vegas’ CardPlayer magazine, Europa participatedin the world poker tournament – we were the onlyones in Costa Rica. It was televised on CNN and theDiscovery Channel,” he said.Europa owners also operate the Royal Dutch Casinoand Casino Tropical, both in downtown San José,Vargas said.

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